Bruno Coulais is a French composer, born in Paris on 13 January 1954. Coming from a classical formation, he was first a composer of contemporary classical music before becoming famous as a film composer.
His career evolved with a series of acquaintances, especially with the director François Reichenbach, who asked him in 1977 to write the soundtrack to his new documentary Mexico Magico. The first full-length production he composed the score for was the 1986 film La femme secrète by Sébastien Grall.
Until the end of the 1990s, he remained low-profile, composing mainly for television. His name can often be found from TV films by Gérard Marx, by Laurent Heynemann, by Edouard Niermans or Josée Dayan.
He also composed the soundtracks for Christine Pascal’s 1992 film Le petit prince a dit, and Agnès Merlet’s Le fils du requin in 1993.
The largest turning point of his career came in 1996, when he worked with directors Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou of the documentary Microcosmos. This single film, which gave a great significance to the music in it, was a great success and made Coulais one of the most wanted composers of French film music. In 1997, he won the César award for the best musical score in a film, as well as a Victoire de la Musique. His reputation was confirmed by the soundtracks to Himalaya (1999) and Les rivières pourpres (2000), and after that Bruno Coulais’s name was to be found on new French blockbusters as well on independent films.
After producing the soundtrack to Winged Migration in 2001, Coulais announced that he wanted to significantly reduce his contributions to film music, and instead concentrate on other projects, such as the creation of an opera for children, and collaborations with Akhenaton, Akhenaton’s group IAM and the Corsican group A Filetta, with whom he had worked since he had made the soundtrack for Jacques Weber’s film Don Juan in 1998.
In 2002, his name was found on the ending credits of the animation The boy who wanted to be a bear, and in 2004, on Frédéric Schoendoerffer’s Agents secrets. The same year, he wrote the soundtrack to the film The Chorus by Christophe Baratier, which subsequently became an international hit. The music for this film received as great praise as the film itself, and it won Coulais his third César award.
Bruno Coulais’s musical style may vary significantly between different projects, but there are some constant factors visible : his taste for opera and for human voice (in particular that of children), for a search for original sonority, for world music and mixing different musical cultures, and finally, a certain tendency to give preference to the ambience created by lighting rather than the film’s narration.
All in all, unlike his colleagues, his music is not coming from a ‘french tradition’ of film score, since his musical references are coming from somewhere else (world music, contemporary music…).
In 2009 he won an Annie award for Coraline by Henry Selick, the director of The nightmare before Christmas.
His relationship wit Benoît Jacquot grows : he composes the score of Les Adieux à la Reine, for the film Au fond des Bois and more recently for 3 Cœurs.
In 2012 he composed Les Villes Invisibles, concerto for violin, created for Laurent Korcia and the Philharmonic of Radio France.
He shares his time between composing for cinema and concert.